Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Post-Election Reflections

Unknown to many, John Chung, one of the quieter co-founders of Agora, actually contested in the Bukit Gasing state assembly seat during the last general election.
Here is a post-election reflection, which may be a good reminder in preparation for the soon-coming next election. If you havent done so, register to vote quick!

Venue: Any post office
Bring: Your IC and a pen (to fill up form)
Time: Whenever the post office is open la, duh

iBridge Article
Column: Writing on the Wall
Author: Ong Kian Meng
Date : 28 April 2004
Title : Post Election Reflections

The posters have been taken away, the billboards dismantled. Pictures of smiling, aspiring YBs no longer demand our attention every time we stop at a traffic light. The 11th Malaysian general election has come and gone, almost in a flash.

Some of us were fortunate enough to be actively involved in the process whether it was helping out in a friend's campaign, monitoring the conduct of the elections or writing about it as a journalist. Others might have observed from the fringes by taking a greater than normal interest in the political news section (instead of the sports news), braving the elements and sacrificing our ASTRO program to listen to a ceramah or surfing the net to find out more about the parties and the candidates.

A few people on I-bridge would know about the candidature of John Chung, our fellow member, who contested under the DAP banner in the Bukit Gasing state assembly seat against Lim Thuang Seng of GERAKAN.

I heard that John got quite a bit of help from some I-bridgers in his campaign. I'm sure that it was a great learning experience for those who got involved and finding out what it's like to be part of a campaign.

I myself was traveling up and down the west coast of the Peninsular, spending most of my time in Kedah but making trips to Perlis, Penang, Perak and back to KL twice during that hectic one week.

Observing the different campaign styles of PAS and UMNO candidates was an eye-opener for me. Sitting in a midst of a PAS ceramah and being one of 2 non-Malays present (the other was a journalist friend of mine), listening to a fiery orator (Mahfuz Omar), having your car batteries die on you in the middle of a kampong in Pokok Sena and asking PAS supporters to push your car so you can restart it were all memories that I will bring back from this campaign.

But for most of us, the elections would have been a mildly interesting affair in which the outcome was more or less decided and which would not affect our lives in any great way. To a certain extent, this is valid and something to praise God for in that our elections are usually conducted without political violence and which
the elections outcome is accepted by and large. On the other hand, the danger of sliding into a comfort zone of political apathy can have dangerous implications for us as citizens of Malaysia and of the Kingdom of God.

We've all heard that we've got to play our part as Malaysian citizens but how should we do so? What should our role be as Christian Malaysians? Here I want to suggest some practical steps, which we can take during and in between elections with differing levels of commitment depending on our own political convictions.

1) Register to vote. I hope that most I-bridgers who are 21 and above have already registered to vote. This is the first step and the bare minimum, which we need to do as a responsible Christian citizen of this country. Registration is a simple process. You just need to bring your IC to the nearest post office and the rest will be done for you. Registration is year round. Also, the person taking down
your details will ask you for your religion. Here's our chance to make sure that the authorities (and the politicians) know that the number of Christian voters in this country are growing. The larger we are as a % of the electorate, the greater the likelihood that we can have a more substantial voice in influencing the policy-makers.

2) Know your MPs and State Assembly representatives. Before the elections, make sure you find out at least a little about the aspiring candidates from all sides at the parliament as well as the state level. If possible, try to attend at least one ceramah of the candidates, which you know less about so that you can make a more
informed choice when the time comes to cast your vote.

3) Organize and mobilize the community. And I don't mean this in a partisan sense. You can be part of a committee that organizes talks in your churches where all the candidates will be invited to share their views. In this way, more people can benefit from meeting the candidates and hearing what they have to say about their own
candidacy. Saint Francis Xavier (SFX) along Jalan Gasing, organized one such event where all 4 candidates (2 parliament and 2 state) were invited to come to speak as well as to listen to the congregation (John was one of them).

4) Keep abreast of the issues. Scan through the papers to know where different parties stand of the different issues of the day – the economy, education, religious freedom, social ills, corruption, human rights etc… Keep track of the service record of the incumbent so that he or she can continuously be made accountable for their
responsibilities to the constituents.

5) Be part of a campaign. This step requires you to take a partisan stand in terms of the party and candidate you want to support in a more public fashion. This requires a higher level of commitment e.g. taking leave to help someone campaign but should be encouraged if it arises from one's political conviction to get
involved in a more hands on manner. But make sure you support the party and more importantly, the candidate, whose ideals and aspirations you can agree with!

6) Be prayerful. Pray for the smooth running of the campaign and for the safety of the candidates and their workers as they travel extensively during the short campaign period. When the results come out, pray for wisdom for the winners and for encouragement for the losers. Pray also for the leaders of the government and the
Opposition as they require great wisdom to carry out their roles in a responsible manner.

7) Continue to engage post election issues. Stay on your toes even after the elections. If candidates in your areas have made election pledges, this will be a reminder that the people expect them to follow through on their promises.

The list is by no-means exhaustive but provides a rough guide as to what we can do, given our own individual limitations, to play a role no matter how minor in being part of the political process of our country.

Maybe more of us will be willing to help John out in the next time he runs?


Rachel Loo said...

Good Reminder

Dave said...

If they are helpful, please feel free to share these articles to frens and family :D